Democracy is the snot running down the nose of an AIDS patient

February 26, 2016 § 9 Comments

Let me say something, as a notoriously intransigent non-voter. Nobody has more non-voter cred in the blogosphere than yours truly.

Democracy is not the core problem with our politics.

Democracy is a symptom of the core problem. The core problem is that the pervasive political philosophy of the ruling class – of really all classes of society other than a few freaks and nutcases wandering around raving in the darkness outside the padded walls – is liberalism.

Structure is at best a tertiary concern, a symptom not a pathogen. Political philosophy and structure do tend to reflect and reinforce each other (lex orandi, lex credendi).  But suggesting that the fundamental problem with our politics is democracy is like saying that the fundamental problem with Islam is the Salat ritual, or that the fundamental problem with Twitter is its organizational structure.

§ 9 Responses to Democracy is the snot running down the nose of an AIDS patient

  • Senghendrake says:

    The award for blog post title of the year goes to…

  • donalgraeme says:

    I have tried to explain this before, but most people don’t get it. Sadly, the problem is their understanding of liberalism, rather than democracy. I think that once I can help them truly understand liberalism then it would be relatively easy for them to perceive that a liberal state under a King would end just the same as a liberal state which was democratic in nature. The core belief system is ultimately determinative, although you rightly point out they influence one another.

  • Zippy says:


    It is ‘natural’ for folks to resist this, because they see democracy as the means by which people have their say in politics. As I’ve pointed out before, that isn’t the main function of democracy: the main function of democracy is to ritually and concretely keep people believing in our political philosophy, liberalism, and supporting our ruling class. The number of candidates on the ballot and the range of positions on offer is irrelevant except as a clever bit of marketing.

    To go more Catholic ‘inside baseball’, consider the liturgical situation in the Roman Rite and the intramural Catholic battles over it. At bottom it is possible to attend either the TLM or the NO while believing what the Church teaches, receiving valid sacraments, etc. But different liturgies inevitably have different emphasis, etc.

    By far the most important things are the underlying Faith and the Sacraments, but liturgists are not wrong that ‘how we pray influences what we believe’ (lex orandi lex credendi).

    Democracy is the lex orandi to liberalism’s lex credendi. I do think Catholics have some advantage in grasping this. Protestantism (some kinds more than others) tends toward an ‘interior puppet show of the mind’ ontology all the way down. From a certain point of view Descartes was less a philosophical genius than just the messenger, making explicit the change in ontological and epistemological beliefs which had been implicit for centuries in Protestant religious practice.

  • Josh says:

    Democracy the structure or democracy the philosophy? Voting is surely a symptom and not the problem, but democracy doesn’t just mean voting, I’m sure you will agree that there is much metaphysical baggage in tow. part of this baggage is, I think, a philosophy of the Good that elevates the human will to the ultimate end. This is at least true if people are going to favor democracy, the rule of the people, as good in itself, which seems to be the corollary of having democratic state.

    I think you are putting the correct horse before the cart, but since the cart always seems to follow, it would be confusing to say, “our streets smell like manure, the problem is not horse-carts, it’s horses.” While perfectly true, it’s not like we can have horse carts without horses. It people say the problem is our system of using horse carts, I’m not going to say they are wrong. Something like that.

  • Zippy says:

    Democracy is a common symptom of liberalism but is not essential to it. If some folks think the problem is runny noses, well, I am happy to hand them a tissue. But if they really want to get rid of the disease they have to look inside themselves for its deeper causes, rather than embarking on the Great Crusade Against Runny Noses.

  • imnobody00 says:

    The core problem is not even liberalism. The core problem is the rebellion of the Self against any restriction of its Will .

    The core problem is the fact that the Self wants to follow its Will (man wants to follow his desires). God’s commandments and natural law are restrictions to that. So this is why the Self rebels against God and embraces the freedom to do whatever the Self feels like. The politic doctrine of liberalism is the rationalization to do that.

    This is why all the freedoms guaranteed by modernity are Selfish freedoms. The freedom to fornicate but not the freedom for your children to have a stable family.

    Relativism is another consequence of the rebellion of the Self. Truth cannot exist because this restricts the Self to do whatever it wants. So it’s not “The truth will set you free” but “To be completely free, the truth must not exist”.

    Since there is no objective truth, all opinions and men are Equal (hence, Equality). To make decisions, you must weight the opinions of all men equally. Hence, Democracy.

    So its

    Rebellion of the Self -> No God
    Rebellion of the Self -> Liberalism
    Rebellion of the Self -> Relativism -> Equality -> Democracy.

    The core problem is obvious

  • […] is ‘more than political’ only in a similar sense to which AIDS is more than a virus. By defining liberal commitments as more grandiose and religious than they are in fact, as […]

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